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Friday, February 3, 2012 - 4:01am

Vote On Vogtle Soon

Federal safety officials will vote Feb. 9 on whether to approve what could become the nation's first nuclear plant in a generation.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has scheduled a hearing on the Atlanta-based Southern Co.'s request to build two new reactors at Plant Vogtle in eastern Georgia.

If the commissioners approve the project, NRC staff would next issue the power company a license to construct and operate the facility. Southern Co. officials estimate the project will cost roughly $14 billion.

The NRC last gave a utility permission to start building a nuclear plant in 1978. The last nuclear plant to start commercial operation was the Tennessee Valley Authority's Watts Bar plant in 1996.